Starting today Colorado residents who are in the country illegally can apply to get a state driver’s license. The Democratic controlled legislature passed the law in 2013. Ten other states have similar laws already on the books.
Undocumented immigrants must first prove that they’ve lived in Colorado for the last two years and have paid state and federal taxes. They’ll also have to show an ID from their home country such as a passport, and sign an affidavit pledging to apply for legal status.
“For a whole host of reasons this is good policy,” said senator Jessie Ulibarri (D- Commerce City.
He is the main sponsor of Senate Bill 251 which allowed for the licenses. They will look similar to a citizen’s driver’s license, but it will have a banner at the top indicating it’s not valid for voting, receiving public benefits, boarding a plane or entering a federal building.
“While we wait for our do nothing Congress to actually get their act together, there are measures that are good for everyone, that can improve the safety of our roads and ensure our neighbors get licensed and insured,” said Ulibarri.
The proposal had bi-partisan support outside the state capitol including from law enforcement agencies, but inside the building it passed along a party line vote. Opponents including Republican lawmakers have routinely said the measure would simply encourage more illegal immigration. State officials estimate about 45,000 applicants in the first year. And while the driver’s license fees will add money to the state’s coffers, it will be more than offset by the expense of hiring more staff and processing the new applications.